Sunday, December 1, 2013

Places seen wide

When we go to a place that has got wide views, say top of a mountain, often we find that it is difficult to convert the feel of being there into an effective image. This problem is equally faced by any tourist/trekker and a photographer. It is often very difficult to convert the feel of being at a place that has the view of a very vast expanse into something measurable as the pixels.

One of the ways, which sometime does a better job than a conventional two dimensional photograph is to shoot multiple frames across the vastness and creating a panorama by stitching those images together.

Though it has got the limitation of scrolling to see the whole image, but the sense of how wide the scene was would still be maintained.

I had faced same problem on various occasions. The one that I remember the most was while I was at Unchalli Falls on a near full moon night at around 12:30AM! I was there to shoot the falls in the moon night and my initial idea was to shoot the falls using a wide angle including some portion of the sky with few stars. But when I stood at the shooting spot I saw that the whole valley was lit up beautifully with the moonlight and I just dumped the idea of shooting only the falls since it was not giving any meaning when compared to the feel of being there at night and looking at the moon-lit valley. I decided to make a panorama and result is the below image.

Unchalli Falls at night. (Click for the lager image)

When I was at Hampi to shoot for the book on Daroji, I saw an opportunity to make another panorama. This time I was without a tripod and the whole scene was very very wide. I took a chance and went ahead with shooting handheld and it took about 20+ images to cover the complete scene. Luckily the stitch went perfect and I was very happy with the result.

Hampi  (Click for the lager image)

This year when I had been to Ooty with my wife there was a huge Eucalyptus tree. I was at a slightly higher place and it was difficult to shoot the tree. It was either getting distorted due to the wide angle lens or it was not completely covering in the frame. Then Sahana suggested me to try a vertical panorama and there you go, it was a fantastic idea! I tried the vertical panorama for the first time and the result was not bad at all!

That is Sahana to give the scale of the hugeness of the tree :)

There were few more occasions when I found panoramas did a better job in conveying my feeling on that place. I have shared few more here which I think you would enjoy.

Devarayana Durga (Click for the lager image) 

Nameri, post sunset (Click for the lager image) 

Bheemanavaare (Click for the lager image) 

 Jenukallu Gudda (Click for the lager image)

Bhyundar Valley (Valley of Flowers)

Do let me know what do you think about this thought about making panoramas.

There are many more panoramas on our gallery dedicated to panoramas on Landscape wizards. 

Here is the link:


Monday, October 28, 2013

In search of a 'Glow' in the dark!

I had seen glowing twigs when I was studying 12th. One of my friends had brought me one sample twig and had told me that such glowing twigs are found all around his home during monsoon. His home is amidst thick forest. I had kept the twig with me for about a week at my home and due to lack of humidity the glow diminished and ultimately the twig got its moksha in the dust bin! All this had happened around 14 years back and it was a closed chapter in my life until recently I recollected the whole episode. That made me to start search for the glow which litters the forest floor in the Western Ghats.

Incidentally Sriharsha was also thinking about the same in parallel and during a normal conversation we happened to know that we both of us are looking for the same thing - Glowing Fungi!

This is how it looks during the day! 
Absolutely no clue as to it would glow so beautifully in dark!

Then happened the cycle of searches and enquiries and finally we managed to find them and more importantly shoot them.

Shooting was a huge challenge as the conditions were not favorable.

Our experiences and the results are now shared on Landscape Wizards - "Luminous Landscapes".

Don't miss to watch the video of our experience and the wonderful GIF by Sriharsha is just an icing on the cake.

Hope you enjoy.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Timeless 'Shivagange'

Kanooru Kote was special to me for its mystic and haunted feel. I had tried to bring the same mood in my blog post: Timeless Kanooru Kote.

I set out with similar mission and this time it was Shivagange, a sacred hill near Tumkur. There are literature available on net for its historical and cultural importance. My purpose here is not to highlight that but to present the place visually in such a way that its timelessness is felt through the imagery. My decision to go monotone was driven by this fact.

So not much text in this post. Through these images I have tried to convey my feelings while I trekked through the place.

Click on the images to see them bigger.


Thoughts / views ?

- Ash

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Return of the Pelagic!

It had been more than two years since I did my last pelagic birding, which I would say the most difficult form of birding, at least to me! That was in April of 2011 when I was a part of a group of 16 members and was done off the coast of Kannur, Kerala. You can read more on that in my blog on the same - "Going Pelagic - The Second Innings!"

Flesh Footed Shearwater

This time it was off the coast of Nileshwar of Kasaragod district in Kerala. The group was of around
20 members that included some eminent birders from Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata along with birders from Bangalore and Kerala and that included my wife Sahana as well! :) The trip was organised by MNHS (Malabar Natural History Society).
What was supposed to be an overnight pelagic, which meant spending the night out in the ocean, had reduced into an one day pelagic due to bad weather on the first day (21st Sept, 2013). The disappointment of missing a chance to do my maiden overnight pelagic was somehow compensated by the birding that we did on the first day where we saw some great species - Pectoral Sandpiper, which is the second record for India and a Caspian Plover, which is a first record for Kerala! Thanks to the eminent birders in the group without whom those were quite hard to even identify, let alone spotting in the crowd of hundreds of sand plovers! On the same day we had seen a dead bird that was recovered by fishermen and that turned out to be Cory's Shearwater, which was the first record from South Asia!

Pectoral Sandpiper  

Record shot of a Caspian Plover

After the rainy first day, our hopes went high as the sky was becoming clear and everything looked good for the pelagic the next day.

Flesh Footed Shearwater shearing the water surface

We hit the waters at around 7:00 in the morning. Because we couldn't get a bigger boat we had to contend with two boats and the team was split into two. These boats were small fishing boats and were much smaller than the one in which I went last time. This meant we couldn't go quite far and we were targeting somewhere around 20 - 25kms from the coastline.

Bridled Terns

 Bridled Tern

Bridled Tern

Bridled Terns

The usual sights of Bridled Terns started soon after we crossed the turbulence zone and we started looking for the true pelagic species like the Shearwaters, Skuas and Petrels etc.

Flesh Footed Shearwater

The sky was clear and as we went almost 7 - 8kms off the coast we saw our first sighting of Flesh Footed Shearwater, a lifer to me! Later we found out that the region was quite dominated by their number and we saw close to 200 birds in total in the whole duration of our birding!

 Flesh Footed Shearwater

Flesh Footed Shearwater. 
See the color of the foot, that is where the name is from.

Another interesting specie for me was Streaked Shearwater. There were 3 -4 individuals in the group of tens of Flesh Footed Shearwaters and at one group we even saw 6 of them!

Streaked Shearwater (the whitish bird) in the group of Flesh Footed Shearwater

A wider view of the group. Image by Sahana.

A closer look of the Streaked Shearwater in flight

A larger flock containing Flesh Footed and Streaked Shearwaters  

I had not seen any Storm Petrels in my last pelagic and I was quite eager to see one. I was not disappointed as we spotted two types of Storm Petrels - Wilson's Storm Petrel and Swinhoe's Storm Petrel!

 A record shot of Swinhoe's Storm Petrel

A record shot of Wilson's Storm Petrel

As we were discussing the absence of any Skuas we just got a glimpse of an Arctic Skua and later we went quite close to it to have a better look. I had seen them in my last trip and had enjoyed their acrobat and combating with Greater Crested Terns!

Arctic Skua

There were several Bridled Terns all over and while coming back we saw some Roseate Terns in breeding plumage!

 Roseate Tern, the one with the orangish red beak

On our way back a Catharacta Skua caught our interest. Unfortunately it was flying quite far and the images that we got were not conclusive enough to make out if it were a South Polar Skua or a Brown Skua.

We were back on the land by around 1:30pm and the whole group was exhausted. Many in our team had suffered from sea sickness in spite of taking medication to prevent it. They were all happy after they landed their feet on the land! :)

All in all it was a very nice trip and hoping to do the next Pelagic and next time it would be an  overnight one!

The Theme of Pelagic

Hoping to see the sea at night next time!